Reviewed by Jodie Crawford
Opening Night verdict ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Vincent River is a psychological thriller written by Phillip Radley and first performed in 2000, twenty two years on and this subject matter is still incredibly relevant. This production is directed by Dan Ellis and Dan Jarvis for Manchester based Green Carnation Company.
The entire play takes place in a half unpacked, unkempt living room, belonging to Anita. The mother of Vincent River. A young man, victim of a homophobic hate crime, murdered in his prime. Anita has recently moved from the home she shared with her son, due to a hate campaign towards her from the community she was once such a large part of.
Anita is crippled with grief, and has noticed a young man following her and watching her from afar. One night she invites, or rather demands, that the young man, Davey, come into the flat to talk to her and explain why he has been watching her. What transcends from this one act is an intense and at times uncomfortable interaction between these two fragile and vulnerable characters.
Davey tells Anita that he and his newly engaged girlfriend are the people who found her son’s body, but Anita sees through this charade and knows that there is a deeper, darker reason for his appearance in her grubby living room.
Rory McManamin (Davey) and Maddy Myles (Anita) are captivating. They deliver an intense and emotive performance of Ridley’s intricate script. There are no scene changes or costume changes to hide behind or to give them a moment to escape the high intensity and complexity of the play.
The scenes can at times be awkward and stilted, but that’s the script, it isn’t meant to be easy to watch. Anita’s son has been horrifically murdered and she knows that Davey knows more than he is letting on. But when the moment of realisation is upon us it is heartbreaking and crippling. It feels like we could reach out and touch Anita’s tidal wave of grief. The way in which Davey’s monologue is delivered is hypnotising. The way in which he moves between speaking directly to Anita and then speaking directly with Vincent in the moment is so powerful.
This is production isn’t for those with a lack of attention span, it requires your full attention to understand the complex characters, intense dialogue and a woven web of things that are unsaid.
I felt emotionally exhausted at the end of this production, but not in a bad way. The reality is that I felt so many of Anita’s emotions. I found this production gripping and unnerving. It was at times hard to grasp that a mother who knew and loved her child so much, could know them so little at the same time.
Vincent River is on at Hope Mill Theatre until Wednesday 19th Oct tickets available here.
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Images: shayrowanphotography @shayster57